After their chemistry landed them starring roles in the High School Musical franchise, Efron and Hudgens immediately became inseparable. The couple fell in love on the first film's set — and when the Disney Channel flick premiered in 2006, they instantly became teen icons. Their relationship blossomed as millions of fans watched their every move and plastered posters up on their bedroom walls.
Efron and Hudgens stuck by each other's sides through all three High School Musical films and went on to support each other as their careers expanded beyond the halls of East High. Although they called it quits in 2010, the former couple remained friendly, and have each looked back on their time together with fond memories.
"We grew up together. It was nice to have someone to share all of those experiences with," Hudgens said following their split.
From their High School Musical auditions to their long-distance romance, here's everything to know about Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens' relationship.
Early 2005: Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens meet while auditioning for High School Musical
In 2005, Efron and Hudgens met for the first time when they auditioned for High School Musical. Looking back on the moment, Efron later said Hudgens was the first person he got paired with — and that their chemistry was apparent to everyone in the casting room.
"For all of the partner things, me and Vanessa always got paired up," he recalled. "I was like, 'They're not trying us with other people.' For some reason we kept sticking around [for callbacks]. I don't know what it was with Vanessa, but we kind of clicked from the very beginning."
2005: Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron begin dating during filming
Although Hudgens and Efron have never revealed exactly when their relationship turned romantic, Hudgens said it was at the "very beginning" of their High School Musical experience. She later explained that they both agreed to be all in from the very start.
"We created a bond right from the start. We were like, 'We're doing this, it's us or nothing,'" Hudgens shared.
October 9, 2005: Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron attend their first event together
Ahead of the release of High School Musical, Hudgens and Efron stepped out at their first event together to celebrate the belated birthday of fellow HSM star Ashley Tisdale. The pair were joined by a group of young celebs including their costar, Corbin Bleu.
January 20, 2006: The first High School Musical movie premieres on Disney Channel
In early 2006, High School Musical debuted on Disney Channel to massive fanfare. The premiere was seen by 7.7 million viewers and the soundtrack became the year's best-selling album.
2006: Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens couple up to promote their movie
Following the High School Musical's massive success, Hudgens and Efron spent a lot of time together as they traveled the world promoting the movie. At the time, the young couple was all over the media, plastered across billboards and the covers of teen magazines. Efron and Hudgens joined the rest of the cast to attend numerous award shows, including the Teen Choice Awards, Billboard Music Awards and the Creative Arts Emmys, where they took home the Outstanding Children's Program award.
Early 2007: Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens spend quality time together in Los Angeles
After over a year of dating, Efron and Hudgens were still going strong, often being spotted hanging out in L.A. together. The couple opted for a more low-key life, hitting the gym, hanging out with costars and making stops for frozen yogurt at Pinkberry. Their castmate Bart Johnson, who played Efron's on-screen dad, said he often saw the couple hanging out in Efron's neighborhood.
"Vanessa had a scooter and she'd pull Zac around on his skateboard with a rope. He'd surf behind her all the way around Toluca Lake," Johnson told PEOPLE.
March 19, 2007: Vanessa Hudgens confirms her relationship with Zac Efron in her "Say Ok" music video
When Hudgens filmed a music video for her single "Say Ok," she recruited Efron to play her love interest. In the video, Efron and some friends meet up with Hudgens at a bowling alley before the couple branches off to take a drive to the beach.
At the time, Efron and Hudgens had still not publicly confirmed their relationship, but following the debut of the video, Hudgens' rep told AOL Music it was the duo's official "coming out" as a couple.
June 2007: Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens begin wearing matching rings
In June, the couple was seen wearing matching silver rings on their right index fingers that were reportedly engraved with each other's names. Fans immediately began to speculate that they were promise rings, and when Efron was later asked about the jewelry, he remained coy with his answer.
"This is just a ring from a friend that I got. It's a female friend, but I can't say who because then it would be chat-room pandemonium and teen-magazine hysteria," Efron told Rolling Stone.
August 2007: Vanessa Hudgens makes a rare comment about her relationship with Zac Efron
While the couple generally kept the details of their relationship extremely private, Hudgens couldn't help but gush about Efron at the L.A. premiere of High School Musical 2.
"He's an amazing guy," Hudgens simply told PEOPLE.
August 9, 2007: Zac Efron calls Vanessa Hudgens a "very sexy woman"
Not long after Hudgens' loving comment about her boyfriend, Efron offered his own thoughts about their relationship. While speaking with Rolling Stone, the actor shared what he found most surprising about Hudgens.
"The weird thing that no one expected about Vanessa is that underneath such a sweet girl … is a very sexy woman," Efron told the outlet.
January 5, 2008: Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron show some PDA on the red carpet
While Hudgens and Efron had walked plenty of red carpets together in the past, the Palm Springs Film Festival marked one of the first times the couple showed PDA at a public event. Efron sweetly whispered something in Hudgens's ear while they smiled and posed for the cameras.
June 25, 2008: Vanessa Hudgens shares her secret to a successful relationship
In June, Hudgens dished her secret to a great relationship with Cosmo Girl!
"If you really love someone, you shouldn't have to work at it. You finish each others' sentences and have the same sense of humor," she shared.
According to the magazine, it was clear Hudgens' secret was working, because when Efron showed up to set, the couple couldn't have looked more in love. "When [Vanessa] sees Zac, she runs over and they kiss, oblivious to the dozen of us in the room. She rubs his stomach, he puts his arm around her — these gestures say more than any statement she could make," the magazine interviewer observed.
October 24, 2008: Vanessa Hudgens says Zac Efron is a good kisser
K Mazur/TCA 2008/WireImage
During an appearance on The Ellen Show, host Ellen DeGeneres got Hudgens to confess that she thought Efron was a "good kisser." She quickly followed up by coyly saying she only knew about his kissing skills because they locked lips in the High School Musical movies — but she did later admit that Efron was really "hot."
October 2008: Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens attend a wedding in Hawaii
Later that month, Efron and Hudgens jetted to Hawaii to attend the wedding of Efron's manager, Jason Barrett. During their trip, the couple were spotted taking a romantic walk on the beach while a shirtless Efron bared his fit physique.
Early 2009: Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens attend the Golden Globes and Oscars
In January and February 2009, Efron and Hudgens stepped out for a few joint appearances, hitting the red carpet at both the Golden Globes and the Oscars. The couple also later attended the Vanity Fair afterparty post-ceremony.
July 14, 2009: Vanessa Hudgens shuts down rumors she's engaged to Zac Efron
Following rumors that Efron had popped the question to Hudgens, the actress explained that marriage wasn't in the cards for them at the moment. Instead, she was solely focused on her career.
"I think [marriage and starting a family] is great but I'm so focused on my career right now that it doesn't really cross my mind," Hudgens told PEOPLE.
December 14, 2009: Vanessa Hudgens celebrates her 21st birthday with Zac Efron
On Hudgens' 21st birthday, she was surprised by Efron and her friends with a birthday bash at a Hollywood club. The party's 100 guests noshed on dishes like crab cakes and scallops on the half shell while mingling and dancing. During the evening, Efron even gave a heartfelt speech, wishing Hudgens a very happy birthday and encouraging guests to have a fun night.
"Zac and Vanessa were adorable together. They were smiling at each other and laughing and are really sweet to each other. Great couple," a guest told PEOPLE.
July 27, 2010: Vanessa Hudgens opens up about how her relationship with Zac Efron has changed over the years
Reflecting on the couple's relationship, Hudgens' commented on how much they had changed over the past few years. She joked that Efron no longer had a gap in his teeth like when they first met, and said their relationship had definitely matured.
"Right off the bat, we had a connection. I think everybody could see it. When we had our audition, they paired us together. And he was adorable. I mean, he wasn't the guy that he is today. Like, he had a gap in his teeth … [He's] just grown-up. He doesn't have his gap anymore. I look at him, and I see a man. I think that we inspire each other. [I love] having someone to grow with," Hudgens shared.
August 2010: Zac Efron reveals he's questioned if he should be single
In a candid interview with Details, Efron opened up about being in a long-term relationship while in the spotlight. When asked if he had ever considered living the single life, Efron admitted that many of his friends had encouraged him to play the field.
"Yeah, everyone tells me that. I think a lot of guys would enjoy that. But I'm not really like that … I rack my brain thinking, 'Why am I not out there playing the field?' One of my buddies was like, 'You have no idea what's going on right now.' … But it's not in my heart," he shared.
Efron was also asked about the validity of his relationship with Hudgens or if it was purely for PR, to which he said the concept of a fake relationship was "f–king insane." He also noted that if the couple had been faking things, they would have called "it off a long time ago."
August 17, 2010: Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens attend their final event together
In August, Efron and Hudgens stepped out for their final public event before calling it quits. The couple were spotted attending a performance of Memphis on Broadway, where they posed for a photo with the cast backstage.
December 13, 2010: Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens officially break up
Several months after their final public appearance, it was confirmed that Efron and Hudgens had called it quits after over four years of dating. At the time, the reason for their breakup wasn't revealed, although a source told PEOPLE "they are 100 percent still good friends."
Late December 2010: Vanessa Hudgens says she will remain friends with Zac Efron
Shortly after the split, Hudgens chatted with Details about the separation, admitting that the future was still open-ended for the couple. While the article wasn't shared until March, the conversation took place just weeks after Hudgens and Efron's split.
"We're still friends. Who knows what the future will bring. We're figuring things out," Hudgens said.
March 2011: Vanessa Hudgens admits long distance was difficult for the couple
Several months after the couple went their separate ways, Hudgens opened up about their relationship, explaining its positive impact on her life. She shared that the relationship had "kept [her] grounded" and encouraged her to be her true self. Unfortunately, Hudgens said long distance proved to be too difficult for the couple, who were both shooting separate projects when they split.
"Long-distance relationships are hard no matter what. When you don't have face-to-face time, it's just different. Having an iPhone helped, but it just wasn't the same," she said.
April 30, 2014: Zac Efron says he's no longer in touch with Vanessa Hudgens
Over three years after their split, Efron revealed that he was no longer in close touch with Hudgens, although he had nothing but nice things to say about his former flame.
"She was a really interesting, sweet person," Efron told The Hollywood Reporter.
March 31, 2015: Vanessa Hudgens opens up about feeling jealousy in her relationship with Zac Efron
Looking back on her relationship with Efron, Hudgens admitted that being in the spotlight could sometimes be difficult. She admitted that she sometimes struggled with jealousy when Efron attracted a lot of attention from female fans.
"I went through a phase when I was really mean because I was so fed up. Girls were running after him, and I was giving them death stares. Then I realized that's not what that's about," Hudgens told the New York Times.
March 2017: Vanessa Hudgens says she's lost contact with Zac Efron
In 2017, Hudgens confirmed that she and Efron were still not in contact. When jokingly asked if the former couple still karaoke together like their characters in High School Musical, she said that it definitely doesn't happen anymore.
"Oh, yeah, no … That's not a thing that happens. I completely lost contact with him," Hudgens shared.
April 22, 2019: Vanessa Hudgens expresses her gratitude for Zac Efron
Despite the fact that Hudgens was no longer in touch with Efron, she admitted she was grateful for the relationship, especially because it occurred during such a crazy time in her life.
"I could not have been more grateful to have that relationship at the time … It was this massive phenomenon and [all] eyes were on me. And it's just a really weird foreign thing to go through, and by being in a relationship, it kind of kept me stabilized and grounded, and I had someone to lean on who was going through it as well," Hudgens told The Hollywood Reporter's "Awards Chatter" podcast.
January 3, 2020: Vanessa Hudgens says she hasn't "seen him or spoken to" Zac Efron in years
In early 2020, Hudgens admitted she hadn't "seen or spoken to [Efron] in years." While they were no longer in contact, Hudgens said she still had the T necklace his character Troy gave Gabriella in the first movie.
"I feel like I need to sell it for charity because it's literally sitting in a little bag rusting!" Hudgens told Cosmopolitan.
April 2020: Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens reunite for a singalong special
The former couple virtually reunited for The Disney Family Singalong special amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While Efron did not perform with his High School Musical costars, he introduced a group that included Hudgens, Tisdale, Bleu, Monique Coleman and Lucas Grabeel. The Disney alums then performed the musical's hit song, "We're All in This Together," from their respective homes.
January 9, 2021: Vanessa Hudgens shares a meme featuring Zac Efron
Hudgens sent High School Musical fans into a frenzy in 2021 when she shared a meme featuring Efron. In the photos from the film, Troy could be seen putting his initial necklace around Gabriella's neck. In the caption, Gabriella asked Troy if the necklace stood for "T as in Troy?" His response was changed from the movie's script to instead say, "No Gabriella, T as in Trump's Twitter is suspended," referencing the social media platform's ban of the former president.
Summer 2022: Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron return to the place where their romance began
Over 15 years after the former couple first met, Hudgens returned to the place where she and Efron fell in love. In a cute clip filmed in front of the real-life Salt Lake City school where the movies were filmed, Hudgens posed for the camera while "Breaking Free" played in the background.
The following month, Efron followed suit and also shared a photo of himself standing in front of the school. "Don't you… Forget about me," he captioned the post, which sent fans into a frenzy theorizing about a potential High School Musical reunion.
September 12, 2022: Vanessa Hudgens talks about her "life-changing" relationships
Hudgens opened up about her past relationships in an interview with NYLON and seemingly reflected on her romance with Efron, though she didn't mention him by name.
"The public only sees so much. I've also been through two very long life-changing relationships, and no one really knows what happened except for me," the actress shared. "When I write my memoir, it'll be amazing."